Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidates hold first debate

Updated: Apr. 25, 2021 at 5:58 PM EDT
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COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WWBT & AP) - Four out of the seven Republicans running for governor in Virginia participated in their first debate on Sunday evening.

The debate was held Sunday evening at a church in Colonial Heights. It comes less than two weeks before the state party’s nominating convention on May 8.

Here are some opening remarks from the four candidates who participated in the debate:

Peter Doran, former think tank executive:

Doran emphasized in his opening remarks that he wants Virginia “to be the best,” including No. 1 in schools, safety and jobs. He also hopes to phase out state income tax.

Doran criticized teacher unions, saying he wants to “fund students, not systems.” He also stated he wanted to remove critical race theory from school curriculums.

To learn more about Doran’s campaign, click here.

Glenn Youngkin, former co-chief executive of The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm:

Youngkin described himself as a Christian and a conservative with hopes of revitalizing Virginia’s economy.

In his opening remarks, he supported the reopening of schools, funding for law enforcement and election reform, including requiring photo identification when voting.

To learn more about Youngkin’s campaign, click here.

Del. Kirk Cox, the former House speaker:

As a government teacher and delegate for several decades, Cox emphasized leadership in his opening remarks. He touted tax cuts and lower crimes rates that he says took place during his time as speaker.

“I don’t want to see us become California,” Cox said.

To learn more about Cox’s campaign, click here.

Sergio de la Peña, a retired Army colonel:

De la Peña said in his opening remarks he was running to protect the American Dream, which he says is being challenged by Democrat leadership in the General Assembly.

De la Peña said he plans to expand the Republican voter base to minority communities, and stated he increased Hispanic votership for former President Donald Trump.

To learn more about De la Peña’s campaign, click here.

Three other candidates said they would not attend Sunday’s debate, including firebrand conservative state Sen. Amanda Chase, former Roanoke Sheriff Octavia L. Johnson and entrepreneur Pete Snyder.

To watch the full debate, click here.

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